Cautious welcome given to social housing measures

3,800 social houses are due to be built in 2018

Cautious welcome given to social housing measures

Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donoghue, announced a range of measures to address social housing issues in 2018 and beyond.

Speaking at the announcement of the Budget, he told the Dáil that 3,800 new social houses will be built next year by the local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies.

There will be an increase of €149 million next year to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme which will enable an additional 17,000 households to be supported and accommodated in 2018.

There will also be a boost in funding for Homeless Services. This will be increased by a further €18 million to over €116 million to ensure that emergency accommodation and other supports are available to those who require them.

These measures have been cautiously welcomed by the Simon Communities around the country. 

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the charities, said: "We welcome the Budget of €1.83 billion for housing in 2018 and the more active role that the Government will play in building social housing.

"However, there are at least 90,000 households on the social housing waiting list. The extra 3,800 social housing homes provided next year will not be sufficient to meet demand."

In relation to the increase in the HAP scheme, she said: "The increase in funding of €149m for HAP is very welcome and must be accelerated. Preventing people from becoming homeless is absolutely key to ending this crisis. We welcome the commitment to increase funding towards HAP Placefinder as people urgently need assistance to find homes."

Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, also reacted positively to Tuesday's budget, saying: "We welcome many of the measures outlined by the Minister today including those that will, we hope, see greater delivery of social and affordable housing...The additional €18 million funding for homeless services and an increase in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) in 2018 are particularly welcome."

However, Fianna Fail spokesperson for Finance, Michael McGrath, criticised the governments approach to housing, saying: "The defining feature of this government so far has been its abysmal failure in housing and health...just get on with it and build the houses we need. Less talk, fewer promises, and more action please."

Labour's Jan O'Sullivan was also critical of the government's approach, saying: "“Instead of directly funding the building of more social houses, Government has chosen to extend the HAP scheme, meaning this much needed funding will go directly into the pockets of private landlords...As well as no plans for a national affordable housing scheme, we have also seen a missed opportunity to repurpose NAMA to take the lead on the development of affordable housing for the State through approved housing bodies."